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Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

A movie directed by Guy Ritchie

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Ritchie has mastered this particular game.

  • Aug 17, 2012
***1/2 out of ****

"Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" improves upon its predecessor in just about every way. Guy Ritchie has dropped the excessive green screen and employment of unnecessary slow-motion (although plenty is still present, just somewhat more, you know, NECESSARY) as well as the miscast Rachel McAdams from the original (who does appear here, but gets killed off early on, thank God). Ritchie seems to have understood what was wrong and what was right about his 2009 re-imagining of the famous detective who legacy in cinema, television, and literature has made him a favorite amongst fanatics of any of the three. He takes what he has established already in the first "Sherlock Holmes" and expands upon more universal ideas and develops more interesting and important characters this time around. It also helps that the plotting - grounded in a very action oriented story - is rather ingenious.

Irene Adler (McAdams) is quite possibly the first in a string of murders, assassinations, and terrorist attacks. She is poisoned by the intellectual criminal mastermind Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris), whose literal hand-gun contraption we saw briefly in the original Guy Ritchie film. This strikes a heavily personal note with Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.), who had just met with Adler the day she also met with Moriarty. They had planned to meet for dinner and he had taken a letter from her possession. He inspects it and vows to track down the intended recipient, a gypsy by the name of Simza (Noomi Rapace), whose brother is working for Moriarty and has put her in danger of being killed (when she and Holmes first meet, an assassin is waiting for her) since she may know of Moriarty's world dominance plans if he told her about them (which is a possibility, if anything).

Meanwhile, what of Watson (Jude Law)? Well, he's finally getting married to the love of his life, Mary (Kelly Reilly), and they're actually on their way to the ol' honeymoon by train when Holmes meets up with his loyal Watson yet again to inform him that the three of them - at the moment - are in grave danger since he does not intend to get out of Moriarty's way. Holmes believes Moriarty has planted bombs all over the map; and that it all starts in Paris, where he and Watson travel to retrieve Simza. The plot consists of a very fast-paced race against time that takes the trio to a variety of different places such as a factory, a forest, the Paris Opera, and even Switzerland. The fact that Ritchie decides to take most of the action outside of London for this sequel alone makes it better than the original.

But then again, it's just better all around. As genuinely creepy and menacing as Mark Strong was in "Sherlock Holmes", Moriarty is Holmes' intellectual equal and thus we're finally given a villain who is both threatening and on the same exact page as Holmes throughout the narrative. Some of the film's best scenes - aside from those centering on the hyper-stylized action - concern the conversations and chess games that Holmes and Moriarty engage in. So I thought he was a nice villain and a far superior one too, and Jared Harris is brilliant in the role. As for Rapace, well, just about anything is better than Rachel McAdams as far as female characters in this universe goes; and it helps that her Simza character isn't quite a new love interest for Holmes (but oh, she could be).

Overall, though; I didn't like the film as much as I did based on the characters or the story. If you go to a Guy Ritchie film expecting a lot of philosophical bantering that runs deep, deep, deep; you've been looking in the wrong place for a long time now and this isn't going to be the film to change your mind. I know it hasn't been too long, but it feels like it has; and it feels damn good to see Ritchie and company return to this world yet again. The action sequences are absolutely stunning and they actually assist the story in moving forward this time around. It's less about mystery and less about the establishment of the Watson/Holmes relationship and more about racy, ambitious genre filmmaking; but I liked how it didn't forget to leave its brain at home in exchange for the sheer amount of badassery on display here. I'm sure not everyone will have as good a time with it as I did, but I'm not going to lie; this is a big step up from the original film. At 129 minutes, the whole thing goes by real fast and you get the sense that Ritchie - already a talented and acclaimed filmmaker - has finally mastered this particular game.

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More Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Sha... reviews
review by . December 17, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Being quite familiar with Guy Ritchie’s works such as “Snatch” and “Lock Stock Two Smoking Barrels”, I know he is the kind of director who likes to cater to mainstream viewers. I wasn’t too fond with his “Sherlock Holmes” back in 2009, but I have to admit that it was fun escapist entertainment carried by strong performances from its cast. It was a simple formula that worked that it spawned this sequel “Game of Shadows” as Robert Downey …
review by . December 20, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
I didn't like the original. Why did I think I would like the sequel?
I really did not like the first Sherlock Holmes movie 2009 for many reasons.  I went to see it and was so sorry afterwards.  I don't know what I was expecting but I did not find it entertaining.  I thought it played to freely with the Sherlock Holmes legend and tried to turn it into a video game themed movie.  Now two years later I saw the trailer for the sequel and thought it looked really good.  I read the reviews and some were very good, while some were not.   …
review by . December 17, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
I didn't pick up on it in the first one, but after someone brought it to my attention and repeat viewings....oh yeah, Holmes and Watson are pretty gay for each other in the first film and in this one.....oh yeah it's the whole point why Irene Adler was even in the first movie and why Watson is getting married here, to throw you off.      I really hated making the gay joke above but this running thread in this movie, especially during the train rescue scene is a real distraction.  …
review by . December 21, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law return once again as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows“. In this installment, a series of bombings across Europe has positioned the nations of the world on the brink of war. Holmes is convinced that there is a criminal mastermind behind the numerous, seemingly unrelated events and he believes it is renowned scholar James Moriarty (Jared Harris). Watson, well-accustomed to Holmes’ eccentric and erratic behavior, …
review by . December 20, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         The title is Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, and indeed, it’s all about the shadowy arts of cleverness and deception. This is to be expected when you have an adversarial relationship between two supremely intelligent men. I am, of course, referring to detective-for-hire Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey, Jr.) and Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris), both engaged in a deadly battle of wits in 1891 Europe. They’re each faced with the monumental …
review by . December 15, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
It was two years ago when Guy Ritchie debuted his take of the famous detective from Baker Street. From the outset it enraged traditionalist fans who did not want Sherlock Holmes to be a gritty street fighter. It was fun to watch as any blockbuster should be and Robert Downey Jr. was in the middle of his resurgence. Since that time Downey has become an A-lister while the original movie grossed $524 million dollars worldwide. So while certainly not a great movie it put butts in the seats and while …
Quick Tip by . December 20, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Guy Ritchie’s indulges in style, fast-editing and tricky camerawork to generate a feeling of tension in the action sequences. It is a well-made film and such formula was successful in the 2009 film, and in this sequel expect more of the same.      The plot in this sequel is pretty simple and offers little surprises. The acting was good as always, but the dialogue does feel obligatory at times and the interactions between Watson and Holmes resemble a married couple.   …
Quick Tip by . December 17, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Decent sequel to the 2009 hit has Sherlock and the newly wed Watson following Professor Moriarty's trail as he attempts to agitate events that will lead to World War 1. Plenty of what made the first great, but the homo eroticizm between the leads is un-ignorable nor is the fact that the story, while deep isn't as intriguing.
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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Director: Guy Ritchie

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